El Dorado County Board of Supervisors Unanimously Approves Respectful Workplace Action Plan
Sweeping changes underway to address concerns of bullying, harassment and retaliation
May 14, 2014
(Placerville, CA) - The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today, May 13, 2014, to direct staff to implement a Countywide Action Plan following results from an employee survey that revealed significant concerns regarding “bullying, harassment, and retaliation.” According to the survey results released during a special board meeting on April 28, 2014, many employees expressed frustration with nepotism, referring to the “good ol’ boy network.” The Board authorized immediate investigations of non-Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy violations in light of the County’s recently updated Respectful Workplace Policy.
The Cultural Assessment Survey performed by independent counsel Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation was a mechanism to determine a baseline of the organization’s workplace climate. In other words, it served as a “diagnostic tool” according to Human Resources Director Pam Knorr who presented the Action Plan alongside outside consultant Mary Egan with the Municipal Resource Group.
More than 15 individuals provided public comment following the Action Plan presentation to the Board of Supervisors, some saying the “culture of fear” within the workplace is a “cancer on the County.”
“We see today as a new beginning that embraces open and respectful behavior,” said Knorr. “The Action Plan will build a bridge over to the new culture and a much more positive future for El Dorado County, its employees and its citizens.”
Customer service training is planned for County leadership and staff along with more robust new supervisor orientations and orientations for the seven other elected department head positions along with building internal awareness regarding policies and procedures, counseling/coaching, and enhancing employee communication.
BOARD VOTE 2-2-2-2
A new Executive Management Advisory Committee will review existing policies, practices, leadership challenges and recommend changes. Leadership criticisms will be addressed and where appropriate misconduct will be investigated. Departments that received low satisfaction levels from employees will receive immediate intervention. There will also be a Management Audit of the Human Resources and Auditor/Controller’s Office.
With the Board of Supervisors’ unequivocal support, Human Resources will move forward with sending employees an invitation to submit specific complaints, using the new Respectful Workplace Form 111. Formal investigations will be conducted regarding specific allegations and for that reason the complainants cannot be anonymous. The first 45 days of complaints will be reviewed by an external, independent investigator using a “Special Master” that has not been selected as of yet. After 45 days, complaints will be received by Human Resources.
Today’s vote included authorization for up to $250,000 to be invested in the Action Plan implementation including hiring neutral third party consultants to conduct investigations, provide training, coaching and internal support.
The Action Plan is expected to enhance efficiency and generate cost savings by developing an improved approach of “working together” and promoting consistency and equitable treatment for all in alignment with County standards.
“All in County government will walk the talk,” said Knorr. “That includes all elected officials, appointees, executives and staff.”